A judge yesterday urged that greater care be taken to check the identity of shoppers using credit cards. Judge Richard Davies made the remarks while sentencing Chau Yiu-cheong, 38, to three years' jail on deception and theft charges relating to credit card fraud. The judge appealed for vigilance from shopkeepers as well as credit card companies. 'Perhaps credit card companies should insist some additional form of identification was used to support credit cards. Something which would not have been difficult in Hong Kong where everyone has to hold an ID card by law,' he said. Chau, 38, admitted 15 charges of deception involving property worth $291,493 and one charge of theft. The offences took place between August and November 1996. Defence lawyer Giles Surman said Chau, a wholesale garment trader, was driven to crime because he needed money to fund his father-in-law's medical expenses. Mr Surman told the District Court Chau had turned to loansharks after his monthly income fell two-thirds to $10,000 in 1996, when business was bad. Pressuring Chau to pay his debts, the loansharks suggested he steal wallets from restaurant customers and use their credit cards to buy valuables. During a 3.5-month spree with eight credit cards, Chau bought gold ornaments, bird's nest, 80 mooncake coupons, a watch and a diamond. He was arrested in Wan Chai in November 1996 by two plain-clothes policemen who saw him acting suspiciously when making a purchase at a shop. Chau went into hiding after being charged and released on bail. He was re-arrested this year.